Israel hits Hamas posts after Gaza rocket strikes south of Ashkelon
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Israel hits Hamas posts after Gaza rocket strikes south of Ashkelon

IDF targets terror group with tank fire, air attack; no reports of injuries on either side after cross-border exchange

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 20, 2014, shows rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza strip into Israel. (photo credit: Albert Sadikov/Flash90)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 20, 2014, shows rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza strip into Israel. (photo credit: Albert Sadikov/Flash90)

A rocket fired from Gaza struck an open field inside Israel just north of the Palestinian enclave on Monday morning, drawing Israeli fire on the Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.

There were no immediate reports of injury or damage in Israel.

In response, an IDF tank fired shells at a Hamas position, destroying it, near the northern Gaza city of Beit Lahiya, the army said.

The army later said it also struck three Hamas posts in northern Gaza from the air.

There were no reports of Palestinian injuries in the retaliatory strike.

A security source from Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers, said two posts were targeted, causing no injuries.

The rocket strike came two days after a top explosives expert for Hamas’s armed wing was killed in a mysterious explosion during a work accident.

Rocket alert sirens sounded in Zikim and Karmiya, in the Hof Ashkelon region, south of the coastal city of Ashkelon, just after 9 a.m. Monday, sending residents scurrying for shelter.

Army spokesman Peter Lerner said the sirens “disrupted the daily lives of Israelis.”

“The IDF will not tolerate rocket fire toward civilians and will continue to ensure security and stability in the region,” he said in a statement.

Israeli troops launched a search in the area to locate the rocket, the IDF said.

If the army’s Iron Dome missile defense system calculates that an incoming rocket is going to strike an unpopulated area, it generally does not attempt to intercept it.

Earlier in the morning, Palestinian media reported that four Israeli engineering vehicles had crossed the border fence and cleared the buffer zone surrounding the Gaza Strip of obstructions.

No Palestinian terrorist group immediately took credit for the rocket fire, though since the 2014 Gaza war, such attacks have generally been carried out by radical salafist groups.

Regardless of which group actually launches the missile, Israel ultimately holds Hamas, which seized control of the Strip some 10 years ago, responsible.

Last month, the incoming rocket alert system went off in the communities of Ein Hashlosha and Nirim, but it was later found to have been a false alarm.

At the time, the army did not say what had triggered the alarm.

AFP contributed to this report.

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